Former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Lord Michael Heseltine has been sacked in his role as a government adviser in the House of Lords following his anti-Brexit comments.
Lord Heseltine was quick to condemn pro-leave campaigner Boris Johnson last summer and yesterday told the Lords chamber that Britain was facing “the most momentous peacetime decision of our time”. Following his comments in the chamber, he was fired from his advisory role despite becoming a life peer of the House of Lords in July 2001.
Heseltine served under both the reign of Thatcher and John Major. Under the latter, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State between 1995 and 1997. His continued backing for a parliamentary vote on Brexit legislation ultimately let to his sacking from five government advisory roles in the House of Commons yesterday evening, going against the Conservatives pro-Brexit mandate.
“I believe that was the right thing to do,” said the former Lord Heseltine when asked about Prime Minster Theresa May’s decision to relieve him from his roles, added that “there just comes a time in life when party politics is secondary to your own deeply held convictions about the national interest.” When asked on BBC Radio 4 about his dealings with May, he said “I have never met Theresa May so I can’t make a judgement. She’s doing very well in the polls… the public approve of what she’s doing.”
“Whether it’s a wise thing to do is a matter for her not for me,” he said. “I have been hugely proud of the work I have done for David Cameron and now for this prime minister, and if they don’t want me to go on they must sack me.”
Lord Heseltine was among the 12 former Tory ministers that rebelled against their party’s plans to trigger Article 50 which Theresa May plans on implementing by the end of March. Her plan is looking unlikely however as the House of Lords defeated it last night by 366 votes to 268 in favour of Brexit. It was also the highest turnout in the Lords since 1831.
The sacking of Heseltine was announced only a few hours before Budget 2017 is announced. Chancellor Phillip Hammond is expected to announce the anticipated (possibly for the wrong reasons) Budget which is expected to see a rise in taxes and business rates in the wake of Brexit.